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Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop: Bless Me, Ultima

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom To Read

All this week I’ll be celebrating banned books week by highlighting challenged or banned books. Why is banned books week important? According to the American Library Association (of which I’m a member),

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

As a parent, you have a right to decide what your own children should be exposed to, but I strongly believe that you do not have the right to dictate what other children have access to. So, let’s celebrate the books that have been challenged and see if you’ve read any of them and you can make the decision for yourself. Each day of Banned Books Week I’ll highlight several of the titles that were challenged or banned last year. Let’s see how they stack up.  Also? This is a blog hop so I’ll giveaway a $10 Amazon gift card to the winner!

I’m highlighting a book today by author of Hispanic heritage. There is such rich cultural history in these books which is often why they’re chosen for readings in school.  The combination of religion and magic often unnerves some people, however.

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Bless Me, Ultima

 

Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima enters his life. She is a curandera, one who heals with herbs and magic. ‘We cannot let her live her last days in loneliness,’ says Antonio’s mother. ‘It is not the way of our people,’ agrees his father. And so Ultima comes to live with Antonio’s family in New Mexico. Soon Tony will journey to the threshold of manhood. Always, Ultima watches over him. She graces him with the courage to face childhood bigotry, diabolical possession, the moral collapse of his brother, and too many violent deaths. Under her wise guidance, Tony will probe the family ties that bind him, and he will find in himself the magical secrets of the pagan past—a mythic legacy equally as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America in which he has been schooled. At each turn in his life there is Ultima who will nurture the birth of his soul.

The book was challenged because of the mature content. I wonder if that is code for fear of witchcraft?  Another frequently challenged book;

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

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Is another one of those books that delves into darker areas that may make most readers uncomfortable.  This is Morrison’s first book.  I’ve read them all; parts of me could relate to the little brown eyed girl who wanted blue eyes like her friends.

Set in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves’ garden do not bloom. Pecola’s life does change- in painful, devastating ways.
What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child’s yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.

In one challenge, the book is accused of “an underlying socialistcommunist agenda.” I don’t even know how to address that.  You should totally read it for yourself to find out though.

Stay tuned next time for another look into Banned Books Week. What do you think of these titles? Would you read them? Have you read them?

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By Pam

My passion is advocating for diversity in children's and YA literature.